Sunday, September 23, 2018

Making use of spare time in Tokyo

After a tough Mt. Fuji climb, our team had enough time in Tokyo that we were able to beat the chance roaming around several popular destinations. Tokyo is a highly urbanize city and although time is of a requirement there is no problem in the transportation because the train transport in the area is very comprehensive, distributing number of stations in almost all key city sites. Here are six sites we visited and enjoyed before flying back to the Philippines last September 10. 

This is a popular Buddhist temple located in Asakusha. The trading streets and beautiful temples laid out in the entire location have become points of interest, making it one of Tokyo’s most vibrant sites. Souvenir items and street foods of assorted varieties can be bought here. Some local beliefs are being practiced here also. Sensoji Temple is considered as the oldest temple in Tokyo and it presents a historical significance of Japan.

Shibuya is a major commercial and business center as it houses the busiest railways in the world. This area is a fashion center in Japan, from it rises beautiful thumbnails which represents Japan in almost all virtual platforms.

Aside from the busy thoroughfare, another attraction on the other side of Shibuya is the replica of Hachiko, an Akita dog born on a farm near the city of Odate. He is remembered for a heroic act as good friend and servant to his owner that he never leaves until his owner dies.

This is a district situated in central Tokyo known for its many electronic shops. It is Tokyo’s major shopping center for household electronic goods. We went there and had some good buys. Prevalent images and items of manga and anime are being displayed in Akihabara.

Two days before flying back to the Philippines we visited Imperial Palace, an abode in Edo Castle site where the Imperial Family resides. I was amazed by the remarkable channels and stone wall structures built within the circumference of the place which are being melded by the green landscape made up of familiar Japanese ornamentals. It is a living vestige that depicts historical and cultural significance of Japan, allowing them to open it to the public for educational, as well as for aesthetic reasons.

This open park in Tokyo is a public refuge for people who want to take respite amidst  busy city life. After roaming around Ueno District we took a breather here and mingled with the tamed black birds. Around the park there are plenty of food and shopping stalls to satisfy ones spending habit.  The one thing we missed in Ueno Park is the trees that turned into cherry color during spring, a very festive scenery.

This tower is the tallest in the entire Tokyo and reached its height to 634 meters in 2011, making it the tallest tower in the world, lodging out the famous Canton Tower in China. It is located in Sumida. An outdoor viewing tour in Skytree can also be paired with shopping as there are malls within the district that serves as a component to the tower premises.

Personally, I think of Skytree tower as another expression of how great the Japanese are in terms of architecture and engineering. Somehow it declares persistence of the people and a statement that Tokyo, or Japan in general, is one of the most developed countries in the world.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Climbing Japan’s Mt. Fuji

My climb in Mt. Fuji last September 6-7, 2018 was perhaps one of my most unforgettable climbs. We were hooking on a last-minute schedule because Mt. Fuji’s climbing season ended just last September 10 and considerably our choice of dates were almost positioned in the so-called “danger zone”. Plus, our trekking was scheduled in the evening considering the travel time from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji station and then all the way to the 5th station.

Mt. Fuji is an active volcano about 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. Commonly called "Fuji-san", it is Japan's tallest peak at 3,776 meters. A pilgrimage site for centuries, it is considered one of Japan's 3 sacred mountains, and summit hikes remain a popular activity. Its iconic profile os the subject of numerous works of art.

At first glance the weather was just normal in 5th station prior to the trek. My three colleagues (Pare Dokie, Pin and JP) had some casual trekking in an open trail from the 5th station up to several mountain huts going to the 6th station. Mt. Fuji has open loose sand and rocky tracks in most of the trails which made us all really comfortable and relaxed. We met several local and foreign trekkers along the way, some of them were instant friends.

Trekking in Mt. Fuji in the evening enabled us to see the glorious cityscape view of Tokyo lights, an added attraction along the path and maybe one of the very few good things that I experienced when climbing this mountain.

As we approached 7th station the rain started gushing, turning the temperature a lot colder than the time we started jumping off. All the while I thought the rain was just auxiliary to the foggy atmosphere in the area, but the small drops turned into a strong torrent of rains associated with cold winds. We tried to stay dry by seeking refuge to the huts but we were prohibited to do it, or were being asked for certain amount of money in exchange for using the hut as shelter stopovers. We had no choice but to continue trekking, our stuff starting to get wet as we approached the 8th station.

Pin and JP decided not to proceed anymore and stayed in 7th station until in the early morning. Pare Dokie was stucked at the 9th station. I was in a hurry to reach the summit with the rain pouring very hard. I was afraid I could not withstand the cold but I managed to make it just in time in the summit but had to descend back along with some other climbers because the weather was not really bearable. When I get back to 9th station I learned that rescue teams were not allowing climbers to trek any further than the 9th station, or 900 meters from the summit.

After minutes of staying wet in 9th station I and Pare Dokie decided to trek down to the 5th station where we reached at around 9:00 AM. We were able to reunite with Pin and JP in 5th station by 11:30 in the morning.

If there is one lesson I learned in Mt. Fuji it is about underestimating the mountain. I have always been saying this one to newby friends in mountaineering, but this time I was hit right into the face. I was thinking it was just an effortless climb but it turned out the other way. Details and information from google, as well as from blog posts should not be considered conclusive and basis for preparing a major climb. Every mountain has a unique character that separates it from other mountains in the world. Whether just a minor climb destination or a huge heaps representing as highest in a certain locality, a climb should be prepared seriously in order to avoid unforeseen dilemma. Afterall, when you are trapped by struggles above and you lose a life, there is definitely no turning back.